A Blip on the Radar (Part 36) All our Mother
Posted on June 22, 2013
A Blip on the Radar (Part 36)
“All Our Mother “
Light in the Darkness, perhaps
When it comes to scuba diving, one of the cardinal rules is:
never dive alone.
Always have a dive buddy along with you. You never know what you might encounter. If you train with any accredited dive training organization, they will repeatedly stress this rule.
I’m not a complete fool. Sure, I’m not very bright, but survival has occupied my tiny mind frequently enough. Somehow I have come through all sorts of adventures in different human spheres largely intact. I suspect there was more to that than dumb luck. Conceivably, I was aware. Of risk. And danger.
So I was reluctant to go scuba diving alone. Unfortunately, on my tuna boat, I was the only scuba diver. Many a time we were heaved to, at night, on a glassy, dead calm Pacific Ocean, and I ached to go diving. If conditions were truly calm, the crew would hang a huge insulated light over the side of the ship. They would submerge it fifteen or twenty feet under water. This was done in the hopes of attracting tuna. It invariably attracted clouds of curious fish, who would mill excitedly around this underwater sun. Sometimes there would be hundreds of fish, brightly colored, with widely different shapes. They ranged from small and flighty, to big and lazy. Everybody milled around the light, and I would watch from above, leaning over the deck railing, curious, and wishing I could swim down there.
I wanted to be a fish, mid ocean, at night, under the big moon, and swim, lazily and unhurriedly, around that temporary Man made submerged sun.
Common sense had always prevailed. I would tear myself away from the railing, and go to my cabin. I might finger my scuba gear, and fantasize about going diving, alone, but always I was mindful of the risks involved. It would be foolhardy to go alone, at night, in the open Ocean. There would be nobody to help me, if I got into difficulties. Nobody would even know if I was in trouble. If I disappeared, nobody would ever be able to offer an explanation. So I resisted. For a while. I merely walked the silent, night time decks. I looked out over the Ocean. I studied the moon, and the stars. I thought of the Universe, and our fragile little planet. I would sigh and return -eventually- to my lonely cabin.
Then I would invariably fall into a dream tossed sleep, and slide, effortlessly, amongst dolphins and tuna, and travel huge interstellar distances through our far seeking Universe.
I was good. I kept the scuba diver’s faith. I kept the pledge. I didn’t dive alone.
The night that I broke the pledge, and sinned foolishly against the great commandment, was quiet as many others. One moment I was gazing over the rail, and the next my mind was made up. I told two of the crew members, took a flare gun along, and slipped quietly over the side, into the warm, mid Ocean equatorial waters…
Into a different world…
Now I was alone. And yet, not. Somehow, I felt at home. I was with All Our Mother again, and surrounded by her loved ones. I loved to dive. Like a mesmerized wanderer through a tropical rain forest, I just floated there, barely moving. The ugly hull of the ship loomed above us, but here below it didn’t matter. Creatures large and small, in myriad forms, with fantastic shapes and colors, moved and flitted silently around me. It was as if they accepted me immediately, as none darted fearfully away. Some were solitary, and others hung around in groups or loose formations, but none adopted the tight, fear packed ball defense which I had observed so often from the helicopter. When fish, terrified, hug close to one another, whilst the predators, hungry and vicious, circle, seemingly at ease and indifferent. Instead we were all at peace together, although what lay beyond the light, none of us knew. That there were predators about, somewhere, went without saying. There would be sharks, and barracuda, killer whales and highly venomous sea snakes. Poisonous jelly fish, that can kill a man in under a minute. We, as a group of All Our Mother’s creatures, we accepted this knowledge. None of us were under any illusions that our environment was totally safe. But our curiosity was spiked, theirs by this strange underwater sun, and mine by them. I was sinking slowly, and the night time noise of the ship, the generators and occasional hydraulics, were becoming less intrusive. Now there was the sound of my breathing through the regulator, and the odd, watery, rippling sound from my diving fins. I moved my feet and legs slowly, carefully, gently. And still I sank, slowly, slowly, unwilling to adjust my buoyancy. I was content to be here, content to sink, content to watch the light show from below, content to sense the darkness from below spread out its embrace to me. To reach for me.
What, I asked myself, lay beyond the fringes of that artificial circle of light? What unknown entities even now, coldly, calmly, calculatingly, observed our little troupe, yet bathed in that light? The symbolism was not lost on me. The parallels with Life, and Death.
With Light, and Dark.
With wisdom, understanding on the one hand, and darkness and ignorance on the other.
With Respect for All Our Mother, such as I felt. A deep, reverend, sense of awe. And the casual plundering of her bounty, as I witnessed every day.
But I also thought of Man, and Greed. Of Injustice, and Suffering. Of the Violence I had seen, and tasted. And meted out. Of Inequality, and Prejudice. And I wished that all men who hate, and fight, and covet, and conspire, who live and die in small, mean cubicles, often but not always of their own making, could see Our Mother in the way She wishes.
And still I sank, deeper into the darkness, barely moving. The bubbles of my exhaled breath dribbled lazily upwards towards that light, playing tag with one another, reflecting the light, and the sound of my own breathing was comforting, and calming.
I thought of my Life, and I thought of my Failings. I thought of my Guilt, and my Self Judgment. I thought of my strange, reserved pride, and my stubborn -adamant- refusal to admit to myself what I knew, deep down, that I really was. A Dreamer, a Child, a Loner, aching for like minded Brothers, and Sisters, and caring, and shelter. A Drifter, cast loose, confused, missing the point and purpose of everything.
I rolled over, slowly. Now I was facing downwards, staring into the deepening Dark. Still sinking slowly. The feeble light from the small, Man made sunlet, that appeared so stunningly bright and powerful when you looked over the ship’s railing, was quickly losing the battle against the Night down here. The Ocean was thousands of miles wide, and many thousands of feet deep. Man’s little pin prick of wattage and lumens was almost laughable now. What did Man know? Man was a fool. An out of control, dangerous, rambling, plundering, blustering fool.
I checked my air supply. I had used a third, just quietly drifting and dreaming. The facts of my air supply were carefully noted and processed. Like a helicopter pilot checking his range and fuel. Then I resumed my reverie. How deep would I go? I was settling through a depth of seventy feet. There did not appear to be much current, but I was aware of the danger of being pushed away too far. Too far to be able to get back to the ship. But I seemed to be descending perfectly below the retreating light above.
I thought of the millions, billions of fellow humans above. Racing down the motorways in their plastic and steel cages. Packed together in their city nests, one on top of another, competing even for space on the teeming, heaving sidewalks. Staring zombie-like past one another. Each little human wrapped in their own tiny world, competing with their neighbor. As busy as ants, as close together as ants, but without any of the quiet harmony and flow and sustainability of an ant colony. Waves of people. Plagues of people. Horrible nests of people. Breeding casually and carelessly, expanding their populations, depleting resources. Demanding, always demanding. Rights. Water. Air. Space. Possessions. Consuming, depleting, marauding through Nature. Destroying.
I was no better than any of them. I too had enjoyed consumerism, without a thought for the future. And I had always wanted more. Why did it take me so long to see the interdependence of all species? Why did I not previously sense the imbalance? What blindness prevented me from seeing the smallness of Man? The fragility of Man? The importance of a more biocentric view of our tiny world?
We need harmony amongst species. All creatures are there for a purpose. Man does not reign supreme. Nor does he reign aloof, independent of the Fate of the earth’s other creatures. We are all part of an interdependent community of living creatures. To plunder the earth’s bounty just for the here and now, profit today, and the devil take tomorrow, is a sure fire recipe for a calamity. An ecological train wreck… Why had it taken me so long to realize that?
I thought of the Skipjack Tuna, the bright Yellowfin, and the occasional, already endangered Big Eye Tuna. The way they thrilled me, when I watched them from the helicopter, darting through the water, leaping high, smacking down hard, turning the water into a white, foaming cauldron. I hugely enjoyed watching them. I loved watching them.
The nets would close. The tuna would be trapped. Still they would swim around, at speed, looking for a way out. But there was no way out. The nets, laboriously hauled in, would offer a smaller and smaller area for the increasingly frantic Tuna to swim around in. There came a point when their natural harmony, their natural formation swimming skills, started to break down. Collisions started to occur, and slowly the water would start turning red with blood. And still the nets would be hauled in, remorselessly, and now the Tuna were panicking. The faster they swam to escape, the harder the collisions, the more blood in the water. Now they were being crushed. More blood. Individual tuna were shooting straight up out of the water, six feet, eight feet, ten feet. All in an effort to escape. The odd, lucky one would accidentally leap out of the net, land in freedom, and accelerate away at Tuna warp speed.
I was down at a hundred feet now. It was dark all around. Above me, higher and higher, the small circle of light, and the many flitting shadows around the artificial sun. Only my breathing, the sound of bubbles, and the very distant sound of the ship’s generators. I was a small thing, fragile, mortal and unimportant, lost in the bowels of the Pacific Ocean. If I mattered, then so did my fellow creatures swimming above. My Fate was interconnected with theirs. I understood. I understood my smallness. I understood my dependence on the Life that is all around.
When the nets start to bring the tuna on board ship, many are still living. Their fins caught in the net, they struggle and squirm in vain. Dropped and kicked, chucked and cursed, they find themselves on the lower working deck. There a hole in the deck leads to a chute. The last thing the Tuna see, is the rubber boot that kicks them down the chute. Seconds later, they crash into the ice cold heavily salted water of the holding tank, where they die quickly, shuddering and gasping in one final, agonizing convulsion. The crew laugh, smoking heavily, indifferent and totally hardened to the demise of so many brightly colored living creatures.
Only one man on the entire ship watches them die with pity in his heart…
Maybe… guilt, also.
It was time to start a slow ascent. Away from the dark embrace. Away from the deep, somber gloom. Away from thoughts of alienation. It was time to return, and be a simple man amongst mortal men. I inflated my BCD jacket a fraction, and heard and felt the reassuring response. A certain hardening around me, and a sense of increased buoyancy. Back. Back towards that small, distant light. The puny light that Man makes. The light with which Man thinks he divides the Darkness. That small, feeble light, which in Man’s simple mind is more than a match for the enormity of the Deep Ocean.
Man, who thinks he understands All Our Mother.
Man who thinks he is better than All Our Mother. More important.
Man, who thinks he can beat, conquer, and subjugate All Our Mother.
And bend her to his will. With impunity.
He is wrong.
There is a hard, hard winter coming, and a heavy price to pay.
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on May 19, 2016, 6:06 am